Home stirs up a variety of images and memories. In recent blogs, I talked about heaven, our real home. But today, I’m offering a new book giveaway from author Deborah Raney called Home to Chicory Lane. A great start to a new Christian fiction series, Deborah’s new book introduces us to the home of the Whitman family. I love the inviting back cover blurb from Deborah’s new book:
WELCOME TO CHICORY INN…
WHERE FAMILY IS (ALMOST)
Deborah Raney has generously offered a copy of Home to Chicory Lane for a book drawing giveaway. Be sure to read to the end of today’s blog to find out how to enter the giveaway for her book.
BOOK REVIEW: WHAT I LIKE ABOUT DEBORAH’S BOOK (S)
When you read Deborah’s interview below, you’ll understand why I love Deborah’s books–and her. Another artist with words, skillful with action plots and sustainable interest, she’s real, transparent, and approachable. And her books are always family oriented, filled with romance, faith, and often suspense. She doesn’t skirt real issues–whether it involves couples, in-laws, strangers, or sibling rivals.
I first discovered Deborah’s books a couple of years ago and quickly became hooked on her family/faith themes, crafted storytelling, and likable characters, reading as many of her books as I could find and buy. I love the Bed & Breakfast theme in Home to Chicory Lane, and the varied relationships of Chicory Inn owners Audrey and Grant Whitman with their grown children–particularly with youngest daughter, Landyn, a true drama queen. Many can identify with their own involvement in their grown kids’ conflicts, like the Whitmans in Home to Chicory Lane. This couple is definitely pulled into a dilemma when the opening of their remodeled home, now a B & B, coincides with Landyn’s surprise visit–along with her u-haul trailer. But she only leaves her newlywed husband behind; her troubles, she brings with her. Audrey and Grant’s empty nest quickly refills with new challenges.
And whether you identify with that stage of parenthood or not, if you’re a mom, you are definitely acquainted with the word challenges. As in all of Deborah’s books, I enjoyed the journeys of her characters, and in this book, the up-and-down family “outs” with the Whitmans’ Inn. Home to Chicory Lane may be a little more character-driven than Deborah’s other books, but she keeps the drama and action flowing to a satisfying resolution. I look forward to the second in her series: Two Roads Home.
If home is truly where the heart is, I can safely say this author and her books have found a home in my heart. Deborah’s books reflect clearly the One she loves and represents. She’s one of the best, and her books offer clean and wholesome reads without ignoring difficult, heart-stomping, and gritty issues in life. But I’ll let her interview tell you more. Her bubbly personality shines through her books–and in this interview below, as she allows us to get a closer look at her as an author.
- How does the writing process of writing your very first novel differ from your experience penning Home to Chicory Lane?
When I wrote my first novel, I had no idea how much I didn’t know about the craft of writing. I also wrote it before trying to sell it. It was a unique and wonderful experience, and I’ve never since written with such abandon, and with such a sense of worship. But what I wrote was not publishable. Learning the craft of writing changed everything and made it much more difficult to write. And yet, it was necessary. Now writing—the first draft—is the hardest work I’ve ever done, and something I dread in many ways. But the editing and polishing? That’s where it begins to get fun again! As many writers say, I don’t enjoy writing, but I love having written.
- Home to Chicory Lane takes place at a bed and breakfast; what inspired this cozy and intimate setting? Any particularly memorable bed and breakfast experiences?
I have always had a secret desire to run a bed and breakfast. I love entertaining guests, I love baking desserts and breakfast fare. The perfect gifts to run an inn, right? Well, except for the part where you’re cleaning and doing laundry, and making beds, and keeping financial records. But I figured I could enjoy being an innkeeper vicariously if I set a series in a beautiful bed and breakfast. It’s been a blast!
- Which character can you closely relate to? Why?
I truly relate to almost every character in this book. While this series is entirely fictional, I’ve pulled heavily from my own family life, both in my family of origin, and with our children and their families (while constantly being careful to fictionalize every aspect of the novels). But at this time in my life, I probably relate most closely with Audrey, whose idea Chicory Inn was, and who feels a misplaced sense of responsibility for the lives of everyone she loves. And yet feels so very blessed to have those people in her life.
- Home to Chicory Lane depicts some of the empty nest syndrome so many parents have after their children have grown. What has your experience been?
Because our four children are far spread out in years, I was a stay-at-home mom with children at home for over thirty years! Being “Mom” was my most powerful identity, and I could scarcely imagine a day that life would look any different. I certainly didn’t imagine that every one of our kids would move far from home when they entered adulthood. It made me grateful that God blessed us with an “oops” baby, buying me a little time to face the empty nest. But also giving me a reason to discover what God had in store for me in the empty nest years. Our youngest daughter’s birth at the time our oldest was about to head to college, necessitated me needing an at-home job, and pushed me into writing that book I’d always wanted to write. I’m so very grateful God showed me my “next thing” before our youngest left home. There was definitely a transition that involved deep mourning, but now, five years later, I can honestly say I couldn’t love the empty nest more!
- What does your writing process look like?
I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer—or as author Alton Gansky has so graciously called it, an intuitive writer. So while every writer must do a great deal of research, much of that process happens in the midst of writing for me. Discovering my story as I write it, instead of outlining the plot before I write, means that I do a lot of backtracking and changing direction. But I’ve tried other methods, and this is just the way my brain works. (No jokes, please! 😉 ) I may have to write 150,000 words to get the 80,000 that are worth keeping, but that’s just part of the process for me.
- Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
I love writing at home, but one of the problems of working from home is the number of distractions it presents. So one of the first things I do before I begin writing each day is to clear away the distractions. The bed must be made, the dishes done and kitchen clean, the laundry started, and any pressing to-do-items on my list taken care of. Only then can I go to my office (which I love!), light a scented candle, brew a cup of coffee at my office coffee bar, choose some inspiring music to write by, and settle into my comfy chair with my laptop and go the “the zone” where my characters begin to come to life.
Sometimes when I’m on deadline or the distractions at home are too hard to overcome (like recently when a spring storm necessitated a new roof, siding, and painting of our house and workmen were pounding outside all hours of the day!) I find it helpful to pack up my laptop and go to a coffee shop to write. A few times, I’ve gone away to a bed and breakfast (great research for this series!) for a few days of uninterrupted work time.
- What are the best and most challenging aspects of being a writer?
Best: working from home, knowing some of my favorite authors as dear friends, and having something tangible–a finished book–to show for my long months of work.
Worst: deadlines (which tend to get ugly), bad reviews (which make me doubt my calling), and the challenge of making others understand that just because I’m done, doesn’t mean I’m free.
- After a book is finished, how do you celebrate?
The day I turn in a book, my husband and I usually go out to dinner to celebrate–or at the very least order a pizza (although we eat a lot of pizza and burgers when I’m on deadline, so that’s not the best option). I always try to take a few weeks off from writing once I’ve finished a book. That is a time for catching up on all the things I let slide while I was racing to write “the end.” So my weeks off are a wonderful time of lunches with friends and family I’ve neglected, cleaning and usually rearranging my office, redecorating our house (one of my favorite hobbies), and best of all, having time to read books just because I want to, not because I have to.
- What five words sum up your personality?
It’s really difficult to “judge” my own personality, but from what I know of myself and what those who know me best have said, these are the five words I’d choose: joyful, grateful, friendly, compassionate, and (just a little) ditzy.
DEBORAH RANEY’s first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. Twenty years, thirty books, and numerous awards later, she’s still writing. She and husband, Ken, recently traded small-town life in Kansas––the setting of many of Deb’s novels––for life in the city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four grown children and five (so far) grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deb at her Website here.
No one asked me to review Deborah’s book. But since many of my Christian mentors in life have been authors, I love to pass on good reads to you, the reader–as well as encourage authors who have written those books for us. If you’re not a reader of Christian novels, remember most of the fiction stories I recommend are usually filled with encouraging truths and Christian principles we can apply to our own lives. Jesus spoke freely in parables–stories.
Note: The drawing has ended.